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News Releases

New Virtual Care Solution Announced for Patients with Spinal Cord Injury

November 1, 2017

TORONTO, November 1, 2017 – Spinal Cord Injury Ontario demonstrated a new virtual platform for patients with spinal cord injury that is funded by Ontario’s Health Technologies Fund (HTF). 

This project is one of 15 that received funding in the first round of Ontario’s $20-million HTF. The fund is administered by Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) on behalf of the Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist (OCHIS), and is a part of the OCHIS mandate to strengthen Ontario’s health innovation ecosystem.

“The Health Technologies Fund is already having an impact in the health system because of the collaborations it has created between health service providers, health technology innovators and patients,” says William Charnetski, Ontario’s Chief Health Innovation Strategist. “We are finding new ways to solve our greatest challenges by harnessing the power of innovation to provide better care while creating jobs in Ontario.”

Representatives from OCHIS and OCE were on location for a presentation that included highlights of the Health Innovation Teams’ progress to date.

The new technology is a virtual care platform built to deliver a combination of telehealth, health informatics, condition management, and coordinated virtual care solutions specifically for people with spinal cord injury. Doctors Cathy Craven, Brian Chan and Matheus Wiest from University Health Network (UHN) will be using this demonstration project to describe the clinical and economic impact of this virtual platform for addressing the accessibility and case co-ordination challenges that spinal cord patients face, when seeking community care.

“These digital health projects demonstrate why investment through the Health Technologies Fund is so important. People are more comfortable than ever using digital technology in their everyday lives and they expect the same kind interaction of their health system,” says Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “With these new tools, health care will become even faster and simpler for patients to use in their homes and communities.

“A common challenge facing people with a spinal cord injury is the ability to access primary care and community support close to home,” says Dr. Stuart Howe, Chief Executive Officer at Spinal Cord Injury Ontario. “The alternative healthcare options currently available to these people are very costly. With at least one person in Ontario sustaining a spinal cord injury every day, it is vital that we have the resources to reach as many people as possible. As a non-profit, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario is delighted to be leading this project, so we can bring our life-changing services right into peoples’ homes, regardless of where they live.”

With a proven track record of delivering programs on behalf of the Ontario government, OCE was selected to deliver the HTF and assist in driving the development of made-in-Ontario healthcare technology while supporting economic growth, co-investing to commercialize innovation and fostering partnerships and collaboration in the health system.

“Healthcare is a priority sector in Ontario and globally, so it makes sense that OCE works with publicly-funded healthcare service providers, patients, academia and industry to find innovative ways to improve patient outcomes and experience by supporting the demonstration of health tech through the Health Technologies Fund,” says Dr. Tom Corr, OCE’s President and CEO

For more information, please visit the Health Technologies Fund website.

Media Contact:
Andrew Robertson
Manager, Media Relations
t: 416.861.1092 x 1092


About Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc.
OCE drives the commercialization of cutting-edge research across key market sectors to build the economy of tomorrow and secure Ontario's global competitiveness. In doing this, OCE fosters the training and development of the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs and is a key partner with Ontario's industry, universities, colleges, research hospitals, investors and governments. A champion of leading-edge technologies, best practices and research, OCE invests in sectors such as advanced health, digital media and information communications, advanced manufacturing and materials, and cleantech including energy, environment and water. OCE is a key partner in delivering Ontario's Innovation Agenda as a member of the province's Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). Funded by the Government of Ontario, the ONE is made up of regional and sector-focused organizations and helps Ontario-based entrepreneurs rapidly grow their company and create jobs.

About the Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist:
The Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist (OCHIS) was created in September of 2015 to fulfill the recommendations made by the Ontario Health Innovation Council (OHIC) established by the Ontario government in 2013. The council submitted is report, The Catalyst, in December 2014.

OCHIS is a catalyst to help accelerate health technology commercialization efforts in Ontario. The purpose of the office is to drive collaboration across the health care system to accelerate the adoption and diffusion of new innovative health technologies and processes to:

OCHIS focuses on targeted priorities:

  • Optimize pathways to adoption and diffusion for innovative Ontario health technologies
  • Enable effective procurement of innovation by shifting the health care system to strategic, value-based procurement and removing barriers for small and medium-sized enterprises to participate.
  • Provide better care closer to home by supporting home and community care enabled by virtual, mobile and digital health technologies
  • Empower Ontarians through digital health by building a dynamic market of digital tools and supports to navigate and personalize their path to health and wellness
  • Enhance Indigenous peoples health by advancing opportunities for innovation to address health challenges in their communities.

To be world-leading, Ontario's health technology companies need to generate significant export activity. OCHIS supports efforts to champion them in global markets.

About Spinal Cord Injury Ontario
As a charity, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario provides a range of services tailored to support people with spinal cord injuries including peer support, knowledge and information, advocacy, employment services and regional services which help people navigate their community post-injury.

Key facts:

  • A spinal cord injury can happen to anyone at any time. When it does, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario is here to help.
  • Spinal Cord Injury Ontario offers a range of services, tailored to support people from the day of their injury and onwards for the rest of their lives.
  • Every day, at least one person in Ontario sustains a spinal cord injury.

About University Health Network
University Health Network includes Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospitals, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and the Michener Institute for Education at UHN. The scope of research and complexity of cases at University Health Network has made it a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care. It has the largest hospital-based research program in Canada, with major research in cardiology, transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, surgical innovation, infectious diseases, genomic medicine and rehabilitation medicine. University Health Network is a research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto.